The classic shift dress is extremely versatile outfit. It is a wardrobe staple, because it is great for weekend, work or cocktail wear. Best of all, the straight fit looks great on almost any body type. For full-coverage choose a looser fit, and for a glam look, go as tight as you dare.
1. Wearing a Shift Dress to Work
Start with the tailored shift at work. If possible, choose one that has a matching blazer, so that you can dress it up for board meetings or conferences.
Buy a shift dress in black, navy blue or dark grey. Dark colors are the most flattering fabric, and they are easy to match with accessories.
Try a sleeveless pinstripe shift. It can be paired with a plain jacket or worn with a collared shirt underneath.
Wear a cardigan over your shift dress. A patterned cardigan over a solid-colored shift dress can make you more on trend while still remaining comfortable.
Experiment with length. Designers are making shifts in midi and maxi lengths. Don’t go too short, but try out some longer lengths at work.
Pair a sleeveless shirt with a long-sleeved shirt and tights in the same color. This 60s-inspired style is warm but bold. Choose a bold-colored shift to pull off the look.
2. Wearing a Shift Dress Casually
Buy a shirt shift dress. These dresses come in comfortable cotton or poly-cotton blends. They are lightweight and perfect for hot weather.
Wear a pair of bright or patterned tights underneath your solid color shift. Pair with a pair of booties or boots.
Choose a short shift dress if you feel confident in how your legs look. Because the fit of a shift dress is quite boxy, the dresses are often shorter than other styles. Don’t wear the short shift dress to work, or it may look inappropriate.
Pair longer shift dresses with ballet shoes or gladiator sandals. Flats make the look even more casual. A ballet bun adds a stylish touch.
Wear leggings. Treat your shift like a tunic and layer some complimentary cotton leggings underneath. You can wear shorter tunics in the cooler weather, as long as the leggings are not opaque.
Try jewelry in bright and bold combinations. Pair purple with green or blue with yellow. Since shift dresses are often more comfortable than other styles, you can be braver with your accessories.
Look for shift dresses with pockets. Moms and busy women will appreciate the practicality of a flowy shift with pockets for a cell phone, wallet and keys.
3. Dressing Up a Shift Dress
Try a color-blocked shift in a flowy fabric. Although they can look baggy on the hanger, rayon-like fabrics hug your curves and hide your flaws. They also look great with heels.
Use your work shifts and dress them up with leather or metallic belts. Choose bright or large accessories to match.
Wear costume jewelry or statement jewelry. Long strings of pearls with a black shift will channel Coco Chanel. Try pendant necklaces, loops and a large pair of sunglasses.
Choose a shift dress with sleeves that extend to the elbows if you want to keep warm or cover a little more skin.
Pick a bold color. Shift dresses come in all colors. Try a blue, red, coral or mint green version. It may become your favorite wedding wear or outfit of the season.
Experiment with fabrics. Embroidery, lace and applique shifts are perfect for weddings, summer parties and cocktail parties.